Join Jared Meeker for an in-depth discussion in this video Introducing chords, part of Bass: Teach Yourself.
- All right, now introducing chords. A lot of times, when you're playing with other musicians and songwriters, you're going to play along with an ensemble where they're playing chords and you're playing notes around those chords. And a lot of times, songwriters will just give you a piece of paper with some chords jotted down on it, so it's really important to understand how these things work. Basically, we're going to go over three different types of chords, and these are some of the most common chord types, and those are major, minor and dominant chords.
So a major chord is just shown as a letter, like if it's a C chord, a lot of times they won't say C Major, it'll just say C. And that implies that it's major. Minor is typically shown with a lowercase M after it or sometimes an m-i-n after it, so it'd be like C, then a lowercase M, or C, then lowercase m-i-n. A dominant chord is just shown with a seven, so if it says C7 or A7, that means C Dominant seven or A Dominant seven.
Let's go through how those chords are built. First of all, let's form these off of A for right now. (instructor plays A) So, they're movable. Any of these shapes, you can certainly move once you get the basic formula down. But an A Major chord is built off of the first note, which is called the root, the third and the fifth of the scale. So if you remember an A Major scale... (instructor plays A Major scale) We'll play the A over here. (instructor plays A) We'll skip the second note, play the third note.
(instructor plays third note) And then play the fifth note. (instructor plays fifth note) (instructor plays chord notes) Root, third, fifth. And as a bass player, you aren't playing these together. (instructor plays chord) You are usually just playing one of those notes, typically the root note, and then the piano player, guitar player plays the rest of the notes in the chord. But it's very important to understand how to build bass lines around these chords. So again, there's a few different ways you could play this. The root, third, fifth here. (instructor plays notes) Root, third, fifth over here. (instructor plays notes) Or root, third, fifth over here.
(instructor plays notes) And that's all for A, but these shapes are movable. So if I'm going to play G, you could just literally take those down two frets. (instructor plays notes) And that's all root, third, fifth for major. Let's check out minor. Now to alter that to minor, all you have to do is flat the third, so the formula for a minor chord is root, flat third, fifth. So again, built off of A, in relation to the A Major scale, you play the first note.
(instructor plays A) Skip the second note and play, instead of playing the third, you're going to play the flat third, take that back one fret. (instructor plays C) That's a C. And then the fifth note. (instructor plays E) So, I'll show you three different ways to play this. (instructor plays notes) And again, those are movable. If you were going to move it down one string, you could play these for D. (instructor plays notes) Or move back two frets to G.
(instructor plays notes) And then finally, let's look at the dominant seven chord. So here, it's a major chord on the bottom, the first three notes. And then the seventh is going to be the top note. (instructor plays note) So we're going to go root, third, fifth, flat seven. (instructor plays notes) So that's the formula for a dominant chord: root, third, fifth, flat seven. And I'll also show you three different ways to play this.
(instructor plays notes)
Note: This course was created and produced by Alfred Music. We are honored to host this training in our library.
- Buying a bass
- Tuning your bass
- Holding your bass
- Left-hand technique
- Getting acquainted with music and tablature
- Notes on the first three strings
- The natural minor scale
- Sharps and naturals
- Key signatures and the major scale
- Ties and quarter notes
- Rock bass and heavy metal licks with syncopation
- Playing chords
- Playing licks from the 1950s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s